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How to use the passive voice

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Writing instructors and books often inveigh against the passive voice. My thrift-store copy of Strunk and White’s 1957 Element of Style says “Use the Active Voice,” explaining that it is “more direct and vigorous than the passive.” And George Orwell, in his 1946 essay on “Politics and the English Language,” scolds us to “Never use the passive where you can use the active.” The passive is an easy target but used strategically, it can be an important part of any writer’s repertoire. The passive allows writers to connect a sentence to the surrounding context putting the focus on the object of the action rather than the subject. Consider this excerpt from Jody Rosen’s paean to the Murphy bed in the September 2018 New York Times Magazine: The Murphy bed offered a solution. Each morning, we wake up, pile pillows and blankets in the corner and push the bed up, where it slips into an upright frame so discreet that your eye slides right over it. Presto: The bedroom is transformed into a. . .

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News source: Linguistics – OUPblog

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